Someone To Blame

Someone To Blame

A Story by Cailean Jones
"

Without a home, Tywin must adapt to his new life.

"
The soft crunch of footsteps on the late autumn leaves draped over the spongy soil of the forest carried through the still air. A sharp crack rang out behind Tywin, causing him to nervously glance towards the disturbance. Seeing nothing but a large chipmunk nibbling on an acorn, Tywin sighed in disappointment. Just once I wish that I would find someone out here. It's been almost a month since they ran me out, and the nearest I've had to company is a stray squirrel.

Tywin was a simple man, wearing a plain loose fitting cream colored shirt with a leather strip laced up the front covered his strong frame. A burlap sack worn as a backpack swung over his broad shoulders. He gazed longingly at the canopy, his deep blue eyes hoping to see some form of civilized life. Spotting nothing of interest, he shook his head in defeat. His thick sandy brown hair settled back into its normal place about half an inch above his eyes.
As he resumed his solo trek, Tywin's thoughts begun to focus on his surroundings. A man of medicine, all of his time spent in the forest was spent collecting plants to make medicine. While he could quickly identify the various herbs for a poultice, Tywin had never actually noticed the beauty of nature. The way the crisp green pine needles scattered the sharp mid-day sunlight. The knotted bark of the maple trees, made naked by the season. How did I never notice any of this before? The nature lost its beauty as it dawned on Tywin that his new found appreciation for nature's beauty was derived from his forced banishment.

After a while Tywin came across a small field. S​lowly walking across the dew covered grass, he stopped to enjoy the soft chirping of the sparrows as the sun glistened over the horizon. Tywin began to wonder what it was that drew him to this field. The soft grass on his feet relaxed him, and allowed him to find a refuge from the hardships of survival. Tywin let himself become lost in the beauty of the scene around him. His shoulders dropped from their tense position, releasing the nervous energy he had been holding for much too long. Without the burden of society that came with his new life, Tywin finally let himself breathe. Matching the natural song of the nature surrounding him, he took deep breaths. In. Out. In. Out. These kinds of moments in a now darkened life allowed him to keep on fighting for survival. The moment passing, Tywin reclaimed the stress that had become a part of him over the last few months and began to wonder about food. Seeing some bright red berries in a nearby tree on the edge of the field, he decided to investigate. He wrapped his arms around a sturdy branch a few feet above his head and hoisted himself up into the tree, climbing about twelve feet up to where the berries were. Upon reaching the intended location, he was disappointed to find that the red berries were merely the feathers of a red bird. Taking a quick survey of the land he noticed a large scouting party to the south, led by Wyte himself.

Wyte sniffed the air, his nostrils flaring out. He was dressed simply and practically. A deep red tunic made of rough material, clung tightly to his frame to avoid snagging while running through the underbrush. Plain light brown pants, made from the same material as his tunic, were held in place by a leather belt. Most ominously was the long unadorned scabbard that hung from his left hip holding a iron hilt a hand-and-half long with a bright red ovular stone in its pommel. He had been elected the new Chieftain.
There were no signs of anyone, except for the slightly bent weeds in front of him. But Wyte knew Tywin's proclivities well; being close friends for years, Wyte had a deep understanding of Tywin's mind. There was no doubt that Tywin would have stopped here. Wyte sauntered to the nearest shrub, starved of water by the weeds overtaking the ground nearby. His shoulders swaying with the motion of his brisk pace, as his pale, almost yellow eyes, gazed unwavering at the trail left behind by his prey. He gave a quick scan of the trees surrounding the small clearing, his gave settling on Tywin's spot. Tywin's heart began to pound, he was sure that Wyte had spotted him. His muscles began to tense, sweat started to dot his forehead, and breath began ragged at the thought of the gruesome punishment that Wyte would surely condemn him to. Every impulse in his body screamed at him to run.
"He's nearby boys" Wyte cried out to his party drawing his sword. "We will find the b*****d traitor and hang him from the top of our spikes! He will pay for what he did! Who will continue with me?!?" Wyte screamed, the veins bulging from his neck strained with the hatred flowing freely in his soul. A loud war cry resounded in response to the challenge and the large party ran off towards the forest.
Making sure that they were gone, Tywin carefully descended from his secluded perch to the ground. His heart was pounding his chest. He expected Wyte to come after him for what had happened. I thought he would at least give time to honor the dead. But after what happened I guess I shouldn't be surprised he's out for revenge so soon. The memory of the night it all changed came rushing back to him.

******************************************************
"What have you done?" Wyte hissed. The warm flicker of the firelight in Wyte's hut danced across his sunken face. It was a single circular room with a single sleeping place set up opposite the doorway. There was no luxury furniture to speak of, just a stand to hold Wyte's sword to the side of the entrance.
"My duty as a healer." Tywin responded calmly. He knew that Wyte was irate, and had every right to be. Just not at him.
"Your duty as a healer? What about your duty as a member of our tribe?" Wyte threw back.
"I swore an oath to always help the sick and wounded."
"You also took an oath to protect your kinsmen!"
"Unlike you Wyte, I can not simply throw someone's life away. My life is dedicated to..."
"SHUT UP!" Wyte screamed, "You are responsible for the death of our Chieftain, the punishment to which is death."
"How am I responsible?" Tywin asked incredulously.
"You are the one that helped that b*****d to full health."
"By the Gods! I know you are hurting Wyte, your father just died. But don't you think that I am in just as much pain? He was as much a father to me as to you!"
"Don't you dare talk about my father like that you dog! Not after what you and that scarred man did." Wyte yelled, angry grief dripping from his poisonous words.
"What makes you think that I knew he was going to attack?"
"That scar. It is the mark of a veteran warrior. To have survived such a blow... You are a healer. You've seen such wounds; you should have known that he was not an innocent wanderer. Now you share in his blood stained past."
"I know you need someone to blame now but..."
"Get out now! Before you find out what the furry of blade feels like." Wyte threatened coldly.
"Fine, I see how it is." Tywin began to leave the hut. He paused for a moment in the doorway, listening to the faint chirp of crickets and turned back to Wyte. "Your father would have understood."
"You b*****d." Wyte exclaimed, tears in his eyes, and reached for his sword. Marching menacingly towards Tywin, he drew small circles slowly in the air with the tip of his blade. Tywin was paralyzed with fear and Wyte shot his arm out grabbing Tywin by the collar and pinned him to the door frame, put the deathly cold iron to his throat and whispered, "I will give until sunrise to run as far away you possibly can. Just know that if I catch you, you will not die quickly like my father. No, you will live long enough to regret everything you have ever done."
***
As the hours flew past, the trees become to become thicker. The wicked tree limbs that reached out for control of the canopy strangled what little light was left in the sky. Getting darker by the minute, Tywin decided it was best to make camp and decided on an uprooted tree about fifteen yards ahead. The ground was soft by the tree, and wouldn't be too uncomfortable for the night. He laid his pack down under the roots and went to find firewood.
Unfortunately, being late fall whatever wood he could find was damp as the leaves that covered the ground trapped moisture, soaking everything. What little dry fuel there was, was barely enough to last till nightfall. Defeated and dejected, Tywin stumbled back to his camp only to find his pack gone. God damn it! I don't know how to scavenge for food. I'm a medicine man not a hunter. I can barely survive with the food that I managed to steal as I left. What am I going to do? What am I going to do? He fell to his knees, slammed his fist into the rough bark of the tree, and in his anger a tear fell from his cheek onto the already moist ground.

Nothing. Every time that Tywin thought he had found food his bloody fingers grasped at thin air. The search for nourishment had been unsuccessful to say the least. It had been a fortnight since his pack had gone missing, and his once solid frame had a ghostly appearance from starvation. "I have to find something” he thought. To curb the insatiable pain of his depleted stomach, Twyin took a handful of dirt and rocks, staring at the desperation that he had to resort to, and reluctantly put the earth in his mouth and swallowed. The dry soil stuck in his mouth leaving the dull taste of earth lingering as he managed to choke down the mouthfull. Coughing up what remained in his mouth, Tywin said to himself, “I used to be a healer, respected for my talents.” Struggling to regain his upright position, Tywin fell back on his knees; his legs too weak to carry his skin and bones frame. “God damn it!” he screamed yelled at himself, “I can do this, I know I can.” Bracing himself on a nearby rock, pushing with what little force his shaking arms could manage, staggered up to a kneel. He grabbed a branch about two feet above his head and pulled with all his might. Groaning with the exertion of the feat, Tywin managed to get on his feet only to stumble back down, getting a mouthful of dirt similar to his last meal. Tywin spit out the dirt, and looked up. Eyes shining with the crazed desperation of a man closer to death than life, Tywin reached out and grabbed the same branch that had led to his previous fall. He jerked himself upwards, letting loose a primal scream from the pit of suffering that he had found himself. His eyes blurred as tears well up from the pain of the motion. His teeth clenched with the agony of sheer exhaustion. As his arms began to give out, he felt the familiar sensation of having the ground properly under his feet. Letting go of the branch, he flung himself towards the tree that had been his salvation from the ground. Tywin clung to the trunk of the tree as he tried to regain his balance. He cautiously let go of his only means of balance, attempting to find equilibrium on his two feet. Leaning too far to the left he stuck out his arm hoping to catch the tree to regain the fleeting balance he had once held. He only managed to catch the open air and took a tentative step to regain control. His foot came down with a dull thud, without thinking his other foot followed. Trying to force his starved body into cooperating with his intention. Again the dull thud of his foot echoed softly in the cover of the trees. This time, when the other foot followed he caught some semblance of the balance he had been seeking. Now moving his feet forward, Tywin managed to stagger a step in the direction of a clearing about ten feet ahead of him. “Left. Right. Left. Right.” Tywin reminded himself of the pattern that most take for granted. Haphazardly stumbling into the clearing, he noticed a shadowy figure on the other side of tree line. Clenching his teeth, Tywin forced himself to investigate.
As Tywin neared the stranger, obviously a man from his build, a feeling of familiarity came over him that he couldn't shake. It was as if Tywin had met this person before. Certain features stuck out to him; the way the man's deep auburn hair was braided into a unified form that twisted down onto his shoulder with only a single thick strand of hair falling over his right eye. His face was perfectly shaven, as if he was incapable of growing facial hair. The way he was standing on the balls of his feet as though he was always ready to flee. After a couple more steps he realized that what he thought was a strand of hair was actually a dark blue-black scar, appearing to be freshly bruised, running from the middle of his forehead across his right eye down to his cheekbone. The scarred man!
Animal instincts taking over he lashed out at the man clumsily, but he easily stepped out of the way, Tywin's back to his opponent. Expecting the scarred man to retaliate, he swung his back leg hoping to catch him off guard. The man simply brushed the kick aside, moved to the inside and stood face to face with Tywin. Already exhausted by starvation, the two attacks he had launched drained him of what little energy Tywin had left. In a last ditch effort to take down the man that had caused him so much agony, Tywin flung himself at his enemy hoping to take him to the ground. He punched off the ground with both legs getting airborne only to hit empty air and hit the ground with a thud. The world started to blur, darkness filled in his vision, and slowly the pain that riddled his body disappeared with his consciousness.

What the hell? He tried to stand up only to find his hands tied together and a rope wrapped around his midsection and a small tree he was leaning against. He racked his brain to figure out what had happened, but the memories evaded him. The last few days were blurry at best, and all he could really remember was the insatiable pain of the hunger he had felt. Then why am I not hungry now? Like the memories, the answer eluded him. I have to find a way out of here. He attempted to scavenge for a sharp rock or something that could possibly free him from his forced detainment, but he couldn't manage to get his hands to touch the ground. The strong knots allowed virtually no movement from his chest or shoulders. Whoever tied me up certainly knew what they were doing. Unable to escape, Tywin took note of the campsite.
There was a crude lean-to shelter consisting of a thick rope tied between two trees with a thin, mud-brown tarp draped over it and staked down to the ground to give it some volume. Covering the entrance was a motley blanket, covered in browns, black, dark greens and dashes of tan. It was very peculiar, as Tywin shifted his view the fabric seemed to move like the background. As he inspected it, Tywin noticed that it was in fact not a blanket but rather a hooded cloak that had been hung up, likely to dry. He had never seen anything like it in his life. Besides the strange cloak, there was nothing else of mention in the campsite.
Having taken in all he could, Tywin watched as the sun glided westward over the course of the day, trying to piece together who had done this to him. Well I'm alive... and well fed, so it couldn't be Wyte. He would have taken me prisoner but surely he would not have fed me. Think Tywin, try to remember what you were doing when you blacked out? Come on, Come on... The more Tywin thought about it the less certain he became. It could have been anyone from the village, Wyte did have a party out looking for me. But maybe there was a villager who was doubting Wyte's plan. Of course! Surely I have at least one friend remaining! That must be what happened! When he comes back, I can try to convince him to let me free!
The sun hung low in the deep orange sky casting long blue shadows across the campsite. Having figured out how he would plead his case, Tywin decided that it would be worth rehearsing his speech.
"I am not your enemy, regardless of what lies Wyte has spread. He is in pain right now, and he is blindly turning you against me. Think about all I have done for our village. I have healed many a sick person. I have helped with the birth of countless children. Do you really think that someone who has spent their whole life trying to help his village would turn on it and send our chieftain to the grave? It's common knowledge that after my parents died many seasons ago, Chief T'Kahuen saw to my safety. He was the closest thing to a father I had. And now he is dead. Look all I want is to be welcomed home, but I know that now is not the time for it. So I simply ask you to allow me to live to see the day I can return."
From behind him he heard slow clapping. "Bravo! Bravo! What a beautiful speech! I was going to kill you but now..." the voice paused. There was a quick swish and the ropes that bound Tywin fell to the ground. "I think I'll let you go." Tywin jumped to his feet and spun around to catch a glimpse of the man who had been holding him. It was the scarred man.
"You!" Tywin exclaimed in surprise. "But how?"
"I didn't think you'd remember." the man replied. "Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Markar." He spun his short knife in his palm and returned it to it's sheath in one smooth motion. "Well you see I was out hunting when I heard something trashing about the woods. I went to investigate, hoping it was an injured deer or something." He paused and headed over to the lean-to while continuing. "You know, as it turns out you sound a lot like a dying deer when you are starving to death. Oh right, I forgot about this." Markar tossed a bright red apple to Tywin, who was barely able to catch it. "I thought you might like some more food. All things considered, you could use it. You look like the son of a dead pixie and a ghost."
"Where was I?" Markar continued. "Oh yes, starving to death!" He cleared his throat. "I was going to leave you for dead at first."
"How nice." Tywin responded sarcastically.
"But then I noticed your eyes. I never forget a person's eyes, they're like the window into a soul. And yours seemed familiar." His voice became low and somber. "I stood and watched you approach, and as you got closer I realized that you were the man that came to my aid. And I knew that I had to repay my debts. You attacked me, but fortunately for me you were closer to death than fighting, and you passed out from the exertion of your efforts. I took you back to my campsite, gave you water, and fed you."
"How long was I out?" Tywin asked.
"A couple of days." Markar replied.
"Then I owe you my thanks."
"You did the same for me."
"Well regardless, thank you." Tywin paused. "Do you think you could spare a few supplies?"
"I could." Markar walked over to his tent and pulled out a large bag. "I can give enough supplies for three days. Will that be enough for your journey?"
"I suppose."
"Where are you going anyways?"
"I don't know. After my village turned on me I just started running."
"What do you do to deserve that?"
"I saved your life."
"What does that have to do with anything?" Markar inquired.
"Please, like you don't know."
"Inform me."
"You killed our Chieftain! Burned our grain supply! And I got blamed for aiding you!" Tywin replied venomously.
"You think that was me?" Markar asked incredulously. "I am a ranger of the forrest, a loner, not a warrior."
"You expect me to believe that?"
"I can see you've seen much loss. And I understand that you need someone to blame, but I am not the one who did that. I bear no ill will against you or your people. You save my life, why would I go and destroy your home?"
"If it wasn't you, then who on earth did?"
"You say it as though your tribe has no enemies."
"You mean?"
"I don't keep up with squabbles amongst tribes. But yeah, your people are blaming the wrong person."
"I must go back and warn my friends. They are hunting the wrong person. Give me some supplies and I will be on my way."
"No." Markar shot back. "I saw your so called friends. They were calling for your death."
"They will understand."
"No they won't. That leader of theirs has gotten them into a frenzy. You go back now and you'll wish that I had let you starve to death. You have no home, and no way of surviving. Allow me to finish repaying my debt by at least teaching you how to hunt and live off the land."
"I swore an oath to never harm a living creature."
"That didn't seem to stop you from attacking me."
"I was a starving lunatic."
"And you will be again unless you learn to hunt." Markar stuck out his hand.
Tywin knew he was right. He took a long look at the out stretched hand. To learn to hunt would be to turn his back on his teaching as a healer. Tywin looked up and his eyes met with Markar's. “Deal.” Tywin said and shook Markar's hand.

© 2013 Cailean Jones


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Added on June 3, 2013
Last Updated on June 3, 2013
Tags: banish, healer, wilderness, nature, starve, hunted, revenge, Markar, Tywin, Wyte, chieftan

Author

Cailean Jones
Cailean Jones

Dallas, TX